The new owners are keeping most of the menu items and décor but will be adding a daytime concept.
Laurie and Kevin Tarter have created two successful restaurants in downtown Winter Garden, and they are about to own a third one with the purchase of The Attic Door. Lori Gibson is selling her restaurant/wine bar/local entertainment destination after 15 years of ownership.
“There are seasons in life,” Gibson said. “And this is the end of my season here inside The Attic Door. I have left my mark, and now it’s time to pass the torch. I can’t imagine a better fit than chef owners of two other successful local restaurants.”
Gibson started in 2003 as a silent partner in the establishment. Three years later, she and Lisa Meadows purchased and operated it until Meadows moved to Hawaii.
When Gibson decided it was time to sell, she asked the Tarters — owners of Chef’s Table at the Edgewater and The Tasting Room, both at 99 W. Plant St. — if they knew of anyone interested in purchasing her business.
“My gut response was, ‘I want The Attic,’” Laurie Tarter said. “My husband said, ‘I think we should buy it; I think we can take everything that Lori has done, (and) we can put our own touches in here — but we want the locals to come in here and have it still feel like The Attic.’”
Tarter said when she and Kevin aren’t at their two restaurants, they are at The Attic Door.
Gibson said she knows her business will be in good hands because she considers them to be an integral part of the rise of the Winter Garden food scene. They opened Chef’s Table in 2008 and The Tasting Room in 2011.
The new owners will operate The Attic Door as a tea room during the day and can be booked for bridal and baby showers or other social events by calling (407) 750-7063. Tarter said the menu will include tiered plates of scones, finger sandwiches and mini desserts.
As for the evening menu, the Tarters don’t want to make many changes to it. They plan to keep some of the Attic favorites, including a few of Gibson’s family recipes, and they are going to add a couple of their own. They also are working on gluten-free and keto options.
Trivia Night will remain, and live music will be offered several nights a week. The new owners are keenly aware of what has been working at The Attic Door.
Gibson attributes her success to the casual atmosphere.
“From the very beginning we wanted it to be like our living room where people felt warm and welcome, and that’s why it’s furnished the way it is,” Gibson said. “We also didn’t want to be too formal. That’s why we call them sofa snacks. … It has a cozy atmosphere.
“Another thing that’s made it successful is the live music,” she said. “We’ve tried to make it a haven for live, local talent.”
After the sale is complete on Jan. 1, Gibson will decide what’s next for her. She’s thinking of going into marketing or hospitality. One thing she won’t do is worry about the fate of The Attic Door.
“They will be great,” she said of the Tarters. “I am so excited for the next chapter.”
The Tarters’ opening day is Friday, Jan. 4.